There can be no doubt that the Caribbean will see less charter business this year following a particularly nasty hurricane season.
The causes for this will be the reluctance of potential charter guests to venture to an area many believe to have been devastated and this will be compounded by fewer owners sending their yachts to the area for the winter season.
This is a shame because the recent hurricanes that tore through the island chain did two things. They caused a huge amount of damage but at the same time they ignited a camaraderie amongst everyone in the area to rebuild, reopen and be ready welcome guests this winter.
It is inspiring what has already been done in a few weeks of frenzied activity and in a bid to clarify what has been achieved and what the state of the islands are in we have done some research
The British Virgin Islands have been extensively damaged but they are subject to a major effort by residents to rebuild. Truthfully it seems highly unlikely the islands will be ready for anything except offshore anchoring.
Further south the part French part Dutch island of Sint Maarten was very badly hit but considerable rebuilding is taking place and the yacht harbour is now almost operational. The important hub airport will we are assured reopen at the end of October.
While badly affected, a very big rebuilding programme of St Baths is already in action. The airport is open and while many of the top hotels will not make it this year, most of the restaurants and bars will be open each determined to maintain their cachet. St Barths will definitely be back this winter and the new years parties will take place
Anguilla took quite a beating and was badly damaged but a large rebuilding programme is in place. Two hotel resorts plan to reopen, two will not make it this year. Many of the best restaurants will open and the beaches are recovering quickly.
Sadly Barbuda was all but wiped out. It is being rebuilt but the hard fact remains that whilst the beaches may be useable, the island’s infrastructure seems most unlikely to be ready to accept guests ashore
Initially thought to have been badly hit, the damage to Guadeloupe has now been reassessed and most reports suggest everything will be repaired by late autumn. The shipyards are fully functioning and several yachts have booked refits there over the winter season
Poor old Dominica survived being trashed by Hurricane Irma only to be devastated by Maria a week or so later. What made the island so special, the vegetation, will not recover meaningfully until late 2018.
The Wild and un-touristy Martinique was almost totally unaffected and remains well worth visiting.
To the south St Lucia was totally unaffected and is now ready for the busiest winter on record. This is the island’s opportunity to shine and it will not be log now before hundreds of yachts set out from the Canary Islands as part of the ARC. All have the Marina in Rodney Bay set into their GPS units.
Pristine islands that offer some of the finest sailing grounds anywhere including the Grenadines Bequia, Mustique, Petit St Vincent, Tobago Cays and of course Grenada were all totally unaffected by the hurricanes this year and are very much open for business.
In the north, most of the other islands not mention so far, suffered minimal damage and remain totally open for visitors. These include
St Kitts, Nevis and Antigua who are all reporting their harbours and anchorages open for business and expecting a very busy winter season.
Not actually in the Caribbvean but often considered by many to be so The Bahamas were almost totally unaffected. Perhaps this is the opportunity for some of the resorts and harbours to prove their worth to the superyacht community. The Turks and Caicos were not quite so lucky. Some islands are out of action, others totally unaffected. The hurricanes have shaken things up but as things settle down the established resorts and harbours will be in good shape.
As things settle down, Edmiston the charter brokers report many clients have confirmed their bookings. They add “Some top yachts still have availability including 63 metre Lady Britt – always one of the most sought-after charters. 78 metre Lurssen TV, 73 metre Utopia, and the 43 metre Bina are all experienced Caribbean cruisers.”